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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A New Campaign Sign for Obama: 'Gone Fishing'

Barack Obama and his family sneaked away to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for some Easter week R&R. The campaign tried to keep the location under wraps, but word got out after Obama posed for a photo with a young fan on the beach Sunday. The Virgin Islands Daily News reported yesterday that a CNN video of Obama lounging in a cabana was shot at the Ritz-Carlton; we've since confirmed that's where he stayed. Fodor's calls the Ritz the island's "most luxurious" resort (marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, kids' program), on 15 acres at the eastern tip of the island. Cheapest rooms this week are $599 per night, ocean views go for $699 and up. Good thing it was a short trip!

Together for the Cause of Separation

Feeling a little cramped, First Amendment-wise? A crew of Hollywood activists -- Kevin Bacon! Jack Klugman! That lady from "Just Shoot Me!" -- descended on D.C. yesterday to make sure you don't have too much church in your state, and vice versa.

Their mission: an earnest confab (Q&A's, singing, etc.) organized by the Interfaith Alliance and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and taped for simulcast tonight in theaters in 37 cities (not here, though). Big competition for "Horton Hears a Who!," huh? Everyone we talked to said it's mostly about "starting a conversation."

Which is exactly what our colleague Marissa Newhall did with the 86-year-old Klugman. "First of all, I'm a liberal," he told her. "My god is Upton Sinclair. I've read all of his books. I evidently passed it on to my boy" Adam Klugman, one of the event's producers. The "Odd Couple" star, who is Jewish, said he had faced religious bigotry in the past. "I just feel there should be a discussion. Our forefathers obviously thought it was very important."

Dan Lauria, best known as the dad from "The Wonder Years," said he got involved after hearing about military commanders who tell soldiers, "God first, country second." "As a former Marine, I took real objection to that." Wendie Malick told Newhall that she felt religion was posing a distraction in the 2008 race, e.g., the Obama pastor controversy. "If we are in fact a tolerant nation, it should be no one's business," she said. (Fun fact: The "Just Shoot Me!" star interned for Jack Kemp back in the early '70s.)

Great -- now where's Kevin Bacon? The eternally boyish character actor arrived late, just in time to take the stage with Bacon Brothers band mate Michael. Lyrics from their catchy, Mellencampian song "Children": "Please don't hurt the children/. . . Please don't send your guns in and say you're doing the work of God/. . . Faith is not a weapon."

The Stars Are Just Starting to Align

With just a month left before the White House Correspondents' dinner and all the surrounding merriment/mayhem, the competition to hype celeb guests is on! Capitol File magazine has snagged late-night comedian Craig Ferguson as "host" of its after-party at the Newseum; when the editors heard Ferguson would be performing at the April 26 dinner, they put him on the cover of the upcoming issue. People mag's party the night before boasts Meghan McCain and the Jonas Brothers; the VIP list at Bloomberg's bash..."

People mag's party the night before boasts Meghan McCain and the Jonas Brothers; the VIP list at Bloomberg's bash at the Costa Rican Embassy is still under wraps. Yeah, yeah -- where will Ben Affleck (attending the dinner as a guest of ABC News) show up? And has anyone had the nerve (bad taste?) to ask Eliot Spitzer's"Kristen"?

Putting a Familiar Face on the Race

In the latest issue of the New Republic, writer Noam Scheiber warns Democrats that this bruising primary battle "could easily destroy the party's White House prospects." But the morphed portrait on the cover seems to warn that if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ever had a child, it would grow up to be Ralph Reed, or Drew Barrymore's boyfriend, Justin "I'm a Mac" Long.

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

* Rachel McAdams late-lunching with a friend at Zola in Chinatown on Monday -- trout, arugula, ginger-infused lemonade. Wore a black blouse and jeans. Why so few sightings of the "Mean Girls"/"Wedding Crashers" star in the three weeks she's been filming "State of Play" here? Eyes open, people!

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